By Marie Clark
I have often wondered how that random email about RISE I got in March of my senior year of high school somehow landed me where I am today. Currently, I am living in Bailey Hall, where I have lived the past two years. I will be in the hall for one final year to be the resident assistant for the second floor girls in RISE next year. Whenever I start to reflect about how I got to this point, it’s surprising how everything connects in some way.
RISE will always be about the people that make it what it is. The physical place of Bailey Hall, the BGHUF, the courtyard, Brody Square, and every other meeting place we congregate at will never amount to the way WE impact one another. Truthfully, everyone moves out of this area within their college career, but RISE extends beyond the streets of Brody Neighborhood. It is about what you want to make of the connections that are available. The people in RISE have taught me a ton about myself.
The first thing RISE helped me see was who I was and who I was not.
I originally wanted to be in RISE because I really wanted to live in Brody and I liked having a community that wasn’t all engineers. I came into MSU thinking Biosystems Engineering was the career path I’d love forever. I didn’t know if I would pursue the environmental studies minor. I didn’t even know if I could find myself enjoying a ton of environmental science. I had no background in excelling in science to point me in this direction. But, I held onto the idea that it would be a cool community that would make the 39,000 undergraduate student body seem a little smaller.
Mid fall semester, I started opening up the conversation with my RA, close friends on my floor, and a career advisor that I wasn’t happy with where BE would take me. It was a situation where I know I could complete the degree and be untroubled with the impact I was making on the world. But, I also felt I wouldn’t be happy or excited to be doing the daily tasks I would have to complete. Several conversations later, I finally determined I would pursue Kinesiology head and heart following my feet going forward. I’m not sure I would have gotten there if I was only surrounded by engineers in Wilson my first year.
The second thing RISE brought me was great friends I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
There is something awesome about living with people that you don’t know at first and how those interactions differ from those you have in class or elsewhere. When you share a community bathroom and common space, most people adapt pretty quickly and you get to know the little quirks in people because the floor is your place to be comfortable. A new level of respect is reached when you share space like a dorm hall. Also, you get to know each other pretty quickly if you choose to engage. Leaving your door open, bringing your music into the bathroom, asking others to get dinner together- these are all little things that helped me find the commonalities I had with others. Each person that lived on my floor last year and this year seeks to go different ways in life- just ask us our majors. But, it is fascinating how we have bonded so fast despite the typical pattern of students keeping to themselves. I learned how important it is to be open to new things, especially to the people that come in when you least expect it.
The third thing RISE helped cultivate in myself is the skills to support others.
At the time during my freshmen year when I didn’t receive the RA position, I was questioning if anything I was doing was right. I wasn’t sure I wanted to live in Bailey again, if RISE was beneficial to me anymore, I didn’t know what I wanted to major in, or if I even wanted to be at MSU at all. Looking back, I was so lost. The only things preventing me from deviating were RISE and Women In Entrepreneurship (WE). I had just taken an executive position in the founding team of WE and also received a mentor position for my sophomore year in RISE. When I returned this past fall, I had no idea how much taking on the mentor position would impact me.
I was given 5 students that would be my mentees whom I had to be available to talk to and assist with whatever sort of things they wanted to come to me with. The position was very broad and you can engage as much as you want- just be available for your mentees if they need you or actively seek those connections with them. I knew from the start that I wouldn’t get much out of it if I just stuck to myself and let them always come to me. So, I reached out often to get to know them. I learned that it really wasn’t my duty to be an advice giver, but instead just a good listener. Often times, the best way I could support a mentee was listening and empathizing with them. This skill has been invaluable in my relationships, friendships, and my work since I will always deal with people in their holistic sense- mind and body.
I don’t think I have reflected on all that being in RISE has helped me find in myself and I’m glad that this conclusion to sophomore year helped me dive into this realization. You never really know how you are changing and adapting until you look back on the journey that got you here. These three big lessons were not presented to me in big packages or lecture slides but instead in all the little things that happened within the RISE community. Never discount what little moments can amount to. I’m grateful for the people that make RISE fruitful and who have helped me become who I am. It’s time to pick up the pen and write a new chapter to my story.